Feinstein wants her desert and solar, too

March 23, 2009

California Senator Dianne Feinstein is fuming over a federal plan to use some Mojave desert lands to develop solar power plants and wind farms.

In a letter to Dept. of the InteriorSecretary Ken Salazar, Feinstein said she planned to introduce legislation that would protect the former railroad lands, thereby preventing the federal government from leasing them to renewable energy project developers. The 600,000 acres in question were acquired by and donated to the government’s Bureau of Land Management between 1999 and 2004 for the purpose of conservation.

“I have been informed that the BLM now considers these areas open for all types of use except mining.  This is unacceptable!” Feinstein wrote in a March 3 letter made public last week.

Feinstein, a supporter of renewable energy, said many of the desert lands being considered for solar and wind development are unsuitable.

“It is critical that these projects move forward on public and private lands well suited for that purpose,” Feinstein wrote.  “Unfortunately, many of the sites now being considered for leases are completely inappropriate and will lead to the wholesale destruction of some of the most pristine areas in the desert.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Interior Department said it would identify zones on public lands where the department can act rapidly to create large-scale production of solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy. Building and consuming more clean, renewable energy is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s energy and economic policies.


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So are the hot springs in Yellow Stone next for energy development. Just what Dick Cheney needs, clean energy. Citizens can’t even drive their own vehicles in some parks. But past and future campaign contributors can tear it up, build a power generation facility, get rich and give some of the profits to politicians. I thought conservation areas are off limits for any private or commercial development. At least that is what the law Teddy Roosevelt signed said. Oops, my bad. That was about a hundred years ago. Just more ancient history? You go Diane.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

There are a lot of folks who need money–could they not be paid to have solar and wind power generators on their land?

Posted by Elaine Broskie | Report as abusive

Few people understand how damaging to the environment wind farms can be. Not to mention the problems that are experienced when the wind goes above or below a certin level.

Posted by Ian Thorpe | Report as abusive

As our population density continues to rise it will become increasingly more difficult for humans to exist without leaving a footprint in the environment. This one factor by itself can be the initiator of a cascade of problems humans cause to the environment. By looking at our current behavior, ie individuals having 8 children in 1 pregnancy, we are on a destructive course that in all honesty is probly already past the point of no return.

Posted by Walking Cloud | Report as abusive

Agreed cloud…looks like we are outgrowing the fish bowl

Posted by Potsdam | Report as abusive

It sure seems funny that the same people who whine and cry about using fossil fuels and want renewable energy are also the same ones who whine and cry that they don’t want those projects in their back yards. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Posted by No Nonsense | Report as abusive

I’m sure many do not understand the imortance of preserving this ecosystem, but despite having an image of being a “baren wasteland,” the desert is quite diverse. It is a travesty that an ecological niche predetermined to be preserved, will all of a sudden be determined for destruction for “eco power,” what a contradiction. We can still preserve the environment and build solar/wind power in areas most suitable, and not on lands that some government schmucks thinks its convenient because its already in their hands.

Posted by Feinstein Is a Wise Sage | Report as abusive

Anybody who’s been to the Mojave Desert will be surprised by Senator Feinstein’s position. It is complete desolation. However, there’s plenty of open space in the Southwest so if the Mojave is a problem it shouldn’t be hard to find a suitable replacement. (The Mojave may have the advantage of being closer to electricity transmission lines).

Posted by mike platt | Report as abusive

Salazar discussed renewable energy zones again today, saying he sees “significant conflict” over where renewable energy projects will be sited. Full story is here: http://www.reuters.com/article/environme ntNews/idUSTRE52N7EX20090324

Posted by Nichola Groom | Report as abusive

I don’t see the problems with solar, wind, or Tesla technologies as compared to oil, coal, and nuclear. Erosion? Birds? Ugly? Downtime? Deathrays? Many ways around those issues. I think it is silly to not allow this type of development especially with the carbon cap and trade legislation on the horizon to raise energy prices for consumers by 30-40% not to mention the global carbon taxes that are coming on EVERYTHING we use and do no matter how the energy is generated. It is absolutely silly to not use these types of energy generation and allow the many industries for associated products to come to fruition because of it. Lobbyists for major corporations will lobby for incentives for carbon usage and that will put the cost burden on the people. I think we can find some good spots to work with in the 600,000 acres there and others around the nation without ruining our environment or our future collateral for borrowing trillions from from the Chinese and others to pay for our bankrupt debt based government banker controlled economy.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

I am so tired of this “NIMBY” attitude when it comes to power generation. We here in the Pacific Northwest generate most of the power California uses and they expect us to build LNG lines for their benefit, take away our views to build wind power plants and damn up our rivers for hydroelectric. I’ve even heard they want us to divert the Columbia River so they can take our water too. If California wants to be “green” it needs to step up to the plate and generate some of its own power too.

Posted by Greg Tompkins | Report as abusive

surely better use could be made of all the existing empty rooftops in the middle of cities

Posted by solar energy | Report as abusive

Currently happening in our county: a for profit company secures land, obtains permits, and builds a solar farm (producing enough energy for 150,000 homes) in Carrisso Plains and contracts to sell energy produced to a Semi Private/Public Co. (PG&E). I , like thousands of other Americans, would like to get solar for my home but can not afford to do so. Idea: me and 100,000 like minded Americans give the Fed. Gov’t $10,000 off our IRA money tax-free, a billion dollars ( think stimulus at no cost to the Fed. Gov’t). This would do a number of things: I get into the solar game at a much lower cost and much more efficiently, my IRA money is giving me a better return than the 0% to 3% people are trying to secure presently, no energy bill gives me more monthly income, and I am a part owner of a solar co-op ( think Hoover Dam at no cost to the gov’t). The Fed. Gov’t gets free stimulus money to build and own a solar farm. And how about this as new way of looking at things, after me and 100,000 of my fellow Americans get our monthly allotment of energy, the Fed. Gov’t could use the excess to power federal buildings. Again this model is being done in our county, but in the for profit and semi for profit model we all have heard about. Its time to think alittle differently

Posted by Bob Armstrong | Report as abusive

No to the solar desert project! 10,000 acres of desert ripped up and billions of gallons of water a year (in the desert) to sustain this project!

Posted by Pam | Report as abusive

[…] large tracts of land, as Alexander likes to point out, and even some of his Democratic colleagues have questioned the Obama administration’s push to use more than 1,000 square miles of public land for green […]

Posted by Streetsblog Capitol Hill » GOPer Offers Alternative Climate Plan: More Nuke, Less ‘Energy Sprawl’ | Report as abusive

[…] on a parcel of 500,000 desert acres” in the Mojave desert. That same month, Feinstein wrote a letter to the Secretary of Interior (who heads the agency in charge of the federal land where the […]

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